Michael Stokes’ family home is situated in some of the most beautiful nature you will ever set your eyes on.  Step outside and you are dwarfed by a perfect snow-capped mountain (can’t miss photograph below) and a grove of old-growth pines swaying in the winter breeze.  Nature, it seems, has even permeated his walls and crept into every nook and designed cranny of the home.  From the bear-fur bedspread, to the weathered wood floors, to the stone and even steel, with the unmistakable patina of nature + time written all over them.

We had the opportunity to have a conversation with Michael and his hearth designer, Eric Walden recently.  You could call this entire home a collaboration of designers, a passion project, or simply, an act of nature.



What originally attracted you to your fireplaces?

Michael Stokes (Homeowner):  “I liked the clean modern look, the realistic fire and the high quality media (logs).  Most fireplaces look like the flames shoot straight up. Element4 fireplaces had very realistic looking burning flames, even in the linear format. I discovered them for their linear models but when it came time to build our Breckenridge house we wanted a more square shape while maintaining a nice tall flame and clean design. ”

So you did quite a bit of shopping around?

Michael Stokes:  “I was looking for the right fireplace for quite a while. I went to the Las Vegas home show and saw all those fireplaces and didn’t like any of them which led me on a further search online.  In the end Element4 just had the best looking fires.”



In the master bedroom, Michael and Eric decided on the perfectly proportioned Modore 75H modern gas fireplace by Element4.  Living in the mountains of Colorado it’s only natural that Michael’s design sense draws from nature.  You can see this influence in the natural fur bed spread, weathered wood floors and hand-picked tiles used to surround the modern fireplace.



Michael picked out these surround tiles long before he knew how the room would come together.  Looking at them up close you can’t help but think of spindling river currents or the way tree roots meander around solid stones in the soil.



Nothing to distract: The Modore 75H features our nearly-invisible anti-reflective glass.
Warning: Please fight the urge to stick marshmallows into the fire… there is actually glass there.



As you walked through the Stokes’ home you get a strong sense that the architecture itself has been loved and lived in.  It was as if even the floorboards had a story to tell.



Moving onto the living room you are greeted by a larger than life stone hearth featuring a Modore 100H modern gas fireplace by Element4.

“I would say my design style is ‘transitional’ – I like warm and inviting but with modern touches”
              -Michael Stokes

I have to admit I wasn’t expecting the rusted steel I-beam mantle for this rural, alpine home, however it just seemed to work so seamlessly.  Designer, Eric Walden from Distinctive Mantel Design, Inc worked with Michael on the entire façade.  When I asked him about the mantle, he smiled and called it his ‘industrial mountain feel.”


Stokes - Breck Living Room - Option 2.2

How was your customer service experience with Distinctive Mantel Design?

Michael Stokes:  “Our experience was excellent. Eric invited us into the showroom and even sketched up what the fireplace would look like in our space, we could move it up and down and we felt good about the proportions and materials. There was no lack of service; he was very responsive and helpful”

3D Rendering courtesy of Eric Walden



Good design is nothing without a skilled hand to pull it off.  The craftsmanship of this installation was impeccable.



Mr. Stokes’ “Transitional style” permeates throughout the house.  Natural materials blend seamlessly with mid-century modern accents and strategically positioned pops of color.



The Modore 100H by Element4 – With a tall, unobstructed viewing area and robust flames the 100H can be dressed up to an ultra modern chic or relax into a traditional stone hearth with ease.

What does your fireplace add to this space?

Michael Stokes: “The fireplace adds a lot of warmth.  It’s convenient to turn on anytime and for us it really ‘finishes’ the space. When we are getting ready to watch TV or a movie, we just click on the fireplace and now you feel settled in and ready to unwind.”



Breckenridge Bliss: A stunning mountain view from the Stokes’ home.




Posted by: Cory John Ploessl
Cory is the Marketing Manager for European Home.  He has an MFA in Sculpture from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston.  He writes about fireplace and modern design on the European Home Blog.



Next month, the 29th annual International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) convention will take place at the Jarvis Center in New York City.  There, European Home will be debuting the wood-burning Focus Fires line (listed as “Focus Creation” on ICFF’s website) to architects, retailers, interior designers, visual merchandisers, and many more May 21st through 24th.

ICFF is North America’s leading convention for interior and architectural design.  They focus on “what’s best & what’s next” in design.


There is never a dull moment walking through the gorgeous maze that is the ICFF convention hall.  Photo courtesy of ICFF website. 

In the 400 square foot exhibit, European Home will display four of the most popular Focus Fires models: the suspended Ergofocus and Agorafocus 630, the wall-mounted Filiofocus 1600, and the famous and award-winning suspended model, the Gyrofocus.

A brief summary of Focus Fires’ history:  Focus was created in France by Atelier Dominique Imbert in 1968, after he crafted his the masterpiece that is the Gyrofocus.  After gaining critical attention when this new and interesting fireplace debuted, his company grew to host dozens of suspended and wall-mounted fireplaces models.  In 2016, the Focus team hand-crafted and sold over 2,000 units to over 55 countries around the world.

Shown here is a 3D rendering of the Focus exhibit:


Rendering of Focus Fires booth @ ICFF: Left to Right: Gyrofocus, Filiofocus Mural, Ergofocus & Agorafocus 630

Other notable exhibitors include: Luxe Interiors + Design (print & online), British European Design Group (BEDG), & The Furniture Society, among many others.

The ICFF hosts over 750 exhibitors from over 30 countries all over the world; we are honored to be apart of this noted worldwide event.

ICFF 2017 Dates – Trade Only
Sunday, May 21 10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m
Monday, May 22 10:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.
Tuesday, May 23 10:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.

Trade and General Public
Wednesday, May 24 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.

Check out ICFF’s website at and get all the details you will need to join us at the convention.  Make sure to stop by Booth #771 to get cozy with these beautiful pieces of art.

We will be collaborating with Method Homes for the annual Dwell on Design: Design that Moves You conference in Los Angeles, California on June 23rd through 25th, 2017.

Our very own J-Series 60″ outdoor fireplace will be displayed in Method Homes’ fully functional show house, which can be toured throughout the convention.  It will be featured on the back patio to create a cozy, fire pit feel – minus the “pit”.  Once the show is over the home will be used as an AirBnB location in Sonoma, California.


European Home’s J-Series 60” Vent-Free Outdoor Fireplace.



Annata show house: 3D digital rendering, designed by Chris Pardo Design, to be featured by Dwell on Design. Photo courtesy of Method Homes.

A little background on our collaborator: based in Washington State, Method Homes is a company that strives to create beautiful custom, prefabricated, homes that are unique to their customer.  They focus on efficiency and sustainable design.  These “prefab” homes are created in a warehouse and assembled on the job site once all the pieces have been completed.   Inclement weather never interferes with their timeline, and when possible, they resalvage existing materials from the homeowners original house.

They are a CSA certified builder of green, prefab structures in the US and Canada.


Custom home in Truckee, CA.  Builder: Method Homes.  This home is host to one of our Lucius 140 Room Dividers.  Read more about this Truckee project and the the prefab concept here.



Custom house in South Surrey, British Columbia (CA).  Builder: Method Homes.

We are very excited to be collaborating with such an innovative and environmentally conscious building company.  We hope to have our fireplaces in more of their gorgeous homes in the future.

You can find us at Dwell on Design’s showcase, Dwell Outdoor; a 30,000 square foot showcase for prefab homes and outdoor design.  This has been a designer favorite since it’s inception in 2008.



Element4 Sets its Sights to the Future of Fire.

Last year, Element4 was the originator of Double and Multi-Burner Technology in North America.  This year, while walking the Hearth Patio and Barbecue Expo floor, we realized they are still the only manufacturer utilizing this amazing technology and they haven’t stopped innovating since.

To Recap:
Double Burner Technology: As seen in the Sky MKII and 100H MKII series.

  • Two burners run parallel, one in front of the other.
  • When both are ignited the flames seamlessly meld giving you a wider and taller flame than a single burner ever could.
  • Bigger fire with the same gas input as a single burner.

Multi Burner Technology: As seen in the Modore 185 & 240 series.

  • 3 burners run the length of the fireplace, alternating in depth.
  • Utilize all three for a long, dramatic flame.
  • Or switch to just the middle burner and enjoy the same flame height with around half the heat output.
  • See Video Below

Coming Soon:
Quad Burner Technology: More details to follow.

  • The ultimate fire technology: combines double and multi burner features allowing you to create 4 distinct burner settings for maximum control over your heat output and flame picture.

At Element4 fire innovation never stops.


Any foodie with a Kamado style grill will tell you the key to good BBQ is cookin’ low and slow.  Any designer with a discerning eye will tell you that the key to a beautiful fireplace design is simple, clean lines.

Both were on display at The HPBExpo (Hearth Patio and Barbecue) earlier this month in Atlanta.  If you happened to stop by booth #2819 you would have seen much of the latter as European Home rolled out some new fireplace designs as well as some iconic favorites.

To those fireplace retailers, architects, and designers who stopped by the booth — a sincere thank you!  We were honored to have so many amazing conversations.

Please scroll through the images below and see what we’ve been up to at European Home.


We rolled out a new booth this year.  We wanted a more sustainable/reusable design, an open floor plan, and a focus on contemporary textures and materials to compliment our modern style.  To learn more about our process check out our Booth Design blog post.



Founder and President of European Home, Holly Markham, talks design with some engaged folks from the industry.



The Sky T MKII by Element4 was a highlight of the show as it has been the past 3 years.  There was a huge buzz on the floor about ‘vertical fireplaces’ this year.  We are proud be leading the way on such a stand-out design trend.



Paxfocus by Focus Fires – For the very first time we got to show off one of the newest members of the European Home line and a living modern design icon.  Focus Fires, designed and fabricated in France, offers a number of suspended, pedestal and wall mounted wood fireplaces all featuring Focus’ unmistakable style, craftsmanship and attention to detail.



Lucius 140 with Glass Safety Barrier (GSB) – Clean, contemporary lines and no need for screens.



All of our burning fireplaces, including the 8′ wide, see-through Tenore 240 GSB by Element4 were connected to our optional Pro Control App System.  Now you can operate your fireplace with your phone or tablet and have ultimate control over the look and feel of your fireplace.



It was a ton of fun and an interesting design challenge to fit so many fireplace lines in one space.  Here the HVF60 [corner] by European Home (left) melds seamlessly into the Modore 75H MKII by Element4 (right).



Jan Kempers and Benno de Groot, founders of Element4, even made the trip from Zwolle, Netherlands.  Here we snap a picture of them as they catch up with our new Product Design Specialist, Preston Lofgren.




Posted by: Cory John Ploessl
Cory is the Marketing Manager for European Home.  He has an MFA in Sculpture from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston.  He writes about fireplace and modern design on the European Home Blog.

From March 2nd – 4th, 2017 European Home will be exhibiting some of our finest products at the Hearth Patio and Barbecue Expo, held at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta.  By the end of this post we’ll give you a sneak peek at what we’ve been designing over the past year.

Trade shows are fascinating spaces — especially before the doors open to the public.  If you take a group of dedicated people, put them on a convention center floor and ask them to build an alternate world in a couple of days you’re sure to see a lot of ingenuity, plenty of sweat, and loads of good design.  That design process doesn’t start and end on the convention center floor however.  There are months of work and planning that go into every square foot of booth space.

We sincerely hope you can make it to the show this year.  We’re proud of our products, our people, and the booth we’ve put together for you.  Whether you can make it to Atlanta or not we think you’ll enjoy taking a peek behind the curtain and getting a glimpse of how it all came together.


Early Rendition: Months ago we started with a basic layout and a very limited knowledge of SketchUp! (3D Rendering Program you see here)  We knew we needed to design something contemporary and clean — to match the modern style of our beautiful fireplaces.


Screen Shot 2017-02-06 at 5.15.19 PM

Drawing it Up: We’ve always been able to put together a beautiful booth on our own.  However, this year we wanted to take our craftsmanship and design to the next level.  For the first time we teamed up with a professional Exhibit Maker.  Jim from SL Exhibits is a trained architect (and kind of old school).  We had the pleasure of learning how to read hand-drawn technical drawings.  It was a good reminder that simple tools can still produce truly good design when put in the right set of hands.



Render: As my own rendering abilities got better I was able to start to play with form and texture.  This rendering paired the Lucius 140 Glass Safety Barrier fireplace with a natural bamboo surround.


Double Glass Modern Gas Fireplace

Lucius 140 with Glass Safety Barrier by Element4:  In this ingenious design, the outer layer of glass is kept relatively cool as hidden fans push the hot air between the two plates of glass and up into the wall cavity.  Since you no longer need a screen, the end result is a beautiful uninterrupted flame and the same efficient heating of our other Element4 models.  Come see it at the show!



Paxcfocus by Focus Fires.  Another fireplace we are particularly excited to show this year is the Paxfocus.  This wall-mounted, wood burning steel beauty is manufactured by hand in France by the iconic modern fireplace makers at Focus Fires.  This year European Home became the exclusive distributor of Focus in North America and we couldn’t be more excited about the partnership.


Virtual Tour of the Booth

At Long Last:  We’ve come to the virtual tour and final design.  We hope you’ve enjoyed your sneak peek thus far and we hope to see you at the HPBExpo 2017.
Click the play button above to take the tour.



Posted by: Cory John Ploessl
Cory is the Marketing Manager for European Home.  He has an MFA in Sculpture from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston.  He writes about fireplace and modern design on the European Home Blog.

Choosing the perfect fireplace is only half the battle.  Like a painting without a frame, a beautiful fire without a fully considered fireplace surround can look incomplete.  A well-designed surround is your opportunity to let your personal style shine through.  

First things first, you may be asking yourself: what is a fireplace surround?

A fireplace surround is an architectural element(s) that quite literally surrounds your fireplace adding aesthetic style and safety to your installation.  In this article we will look at three styles of fireplace surrounds: Traditional, Minimalist, and Contemporary.


Picture a stone hearth, the mantle is lined with family photos, and large flames are dancing to the sound of Christmas carols.  Many of us have a nostalgic memory of a fireplace similar to this (or at least you saw one on TV!).  Perhaps you love the look of a traditional hearth but want to take advantage of the ease and efficiency of a gas fireplace.  Look no further!

Trisore 100H by Element4

Humanity has been building beautiful things out of stone even longer than we’ve been building fires.  The designer for this project decided to combine the ageless beauty of natural stone with a modern three-sided gas fireplace for a cozy feel in this luxury Northwoods cabin.


Trisore 100H by Element4 (With Safety Screen)

Trisore 100H: Contemporary 3-sided gas fireplace by Element4 (With Safety Screen)


Gas Stones by Gavin Scott

Gas Stones is a great product because it can be easily placed in an existing wood-burning fireplace cavity.  DYI idea: add a crown molding mantle and a coat of white paint over your old bricks to give your space a new clean take on traditional.  

Gas Stones Fireplace by European Home

Gas Stones: Modern log-set alternative by European Home


Modore 75H by Element4

With an uninterrupted viewing area, realistic log set, and the use of anti-reflective glass, this modern gas fireplace is the perfect fit for a traditional surround.  Here a simple white mantle is added to give the surround a touch of added elegance.  

Square Modern Gas Fireplace

Modore 75H: Modern gas fireplace by Element4



Minimalism was an artistic and architectural movement born in the 1950s but it has persisted in interior design because of the inherent beauty and sense of calm this style evokes.  Like all things in life, with fireplace surrounds, sometimes less is more.  

G Series by European Home

Subtle grays and whites make for the perfect minimalist surround for this customizable gas burner.


G Series: Linear gas burner by European Home


Modore 240 by Element4

This 8’ long linear gas fireplace creates a dramatic horizontal, hole-in-the-wall effect.  Equilibrium is achieved by two symmetric black panels running vertically on either side.  

Contemporary Direct Vent Fireplace

Modore 240: 8 foot linear gas fireplace by Element4



Contemporary design is always changing, however the design of today no doubt draws from the clean lines of minimalism and ads in lush materials and textures to create truly dynamic spaces.  With the development of new materials, the possibilities for your fireplace surround are endless.  Just take a look at these three contemporary examples.

Lucius 140 by Element4

In this urban loft, raw materials like brick and exposed metal give the space a contemporary industrial feel.  This modern peninsula fireplace is surrounded by panels that may look like patina aged steel but are actually printed ceramic tiles.   

Modern Gas Fireplace by Element4

Lucius 140 Room Divider: Peninsula-style modern gas fireplace by Element4

Vision by Gavin Scott

Vision is the only example on this list that comes with its own optional surround.  These surrounds are available in many different colors and materials.  It is pictured here with a clean and contemporary stainless finish which transitions nicely into a muted grey stone wall tile.

Vision Gas Fireplace by European Home

Vision Gas Fireplace by European Home

Bidore 95 by European Home

These textured tiles are sure to turn some heads.  The choice of a geometric pattern is particularly interesting when paired next to something as organic and natural as fire.

Direct-Vent Gas Fireplace

Bidore 95: Corner style gas fireplace by Element 4




Posted by: Cory John Ploessl
Cory is the Marketing Manager for European Home.  He has an MFA in Sculpture from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston.  He writes about fireplace and modern design on the European Home Blog.

Iconic Modern Design

December 5, 2016

A brief history of three modern designs that brought a new consciousness to form and function.

Design not only shapes the way we live but it inspires a type of living that is intentional and meaningful.  In this article we will look at three designed objects that have changed the way we encounter and interact with our world.  These three icons, the Eames Lounge Chair, The Noguchi Table, and the Gyrofocus by Dominque Imbert, feel as fresh and relevant as the day they were created, proving once more, truly great design never falls out of fashion.  

The Eames Lounge Chair


The Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman

Every time you sit in a molded chair that curves around and holds the contours of your body you have Ray and Charles Eames to thank.  In a time when wooden chairs were made primarily of straight lines and near right-angles, this design duo thought of the revolutionary idea to use molded plywood and truly consider the ergonomics of sitting.  It would be years later until the couple would come up with the most iconic chair of the Mid Century Modern era, the Eames Lounge Chair.   

Though the Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman employed the same molded plywood as their previous furniture designs, Arlene Francis called it “quite a departure” when it debuted on her popular Home Show in 1956. Indeed, the lounge set came about during a period of very spare and minimal furniture, but Charles was insistent on building a chair with “the warm receptive look of a well-used first baseman’s mitt,” one that would provide respite from the “strains of modern living.” (1)

The Eames Lounge Chair holds up today as a marvel of modern design, comfort and sophistication.  Ray and Charles Eames, already world famous designers at the time, entered into the realm of icons when they dared to perfect the humble art of sitting.


Ray and Charles Eames


The Noguchi Table

It has been described as two canoes gliding across placid water.  It has been described as a haiku, perfect in its elegant simplicity.  It has been described as harmony composed of two pieces of wood and a sheet of glass.  However, The Noguchi Table is not something to be described, it is indeed, something to be experienced.


“The first prototype of what is now known as the Noguchi Table was created with a slab of found glass and carefully sculpted, individual wood pieces. The themes of reflection, nature and deep peace were taken from Noguchi’s own experiences and an organic, physical connection to the world of design and sculpture.” (2)

Noguchi may have set out to create a table but in fact, his table has created a new way to look at the furniture with which we surround ourselves.  Its three-point stance can hold a stack of books as sturdy as it can hold the collective imagination of anyone in its presence.  


Isamu Noguchi


Dominique Imbert: Gyrofocus

Dominique Imbert, a true Renaissance Man and the creator of Focus Fires, was born in Montpellier in the south of France in 1940. After studying literature in London and Paris, he became, ‘by accident’, as he puts it, an ethnologist in Alaska and an assistant chef in Manhattan, before being awarded a Doctorate in Sociology and becoming a history professor in Paris. After teaching for four years, he decided he preferred shaping metal to moulding young minds so he gave up the blackboard for an anvil and a welding torch.


Gyrofocus by Focus Fires

The origin of his most iconic design dates back to 1967.  It was cold in the south of France and Dominique Imbert was restoring a ruined farmhouse, stone by stone, in the village of Viols-le-Fort. In order to stay warm while he worked, he forged his first fireplace out of salvaged scraps of metal. What resulted was a smoldering smile of iron hanging from the sky: the first Focus was born. A year later, this first fireplace would give rise to a second, which was revolutionary in every sense of the word. As with its predecessor, the fireplace was suspended, but this time the hearth could pivot 360° to face any direction. Several enthusiastic friends wanted their own ‘rotating hearth’ – gyrofocus in Latin. And thus began the history of Focus and its iconic Gyrofocus fireplace. (3)

The Gyrofocus is in every way an original.  It was the first suspended fireplace and while other designers have tried to capture it’s essence over the years, none can match its attention to detail or perfection of form.  It is a sculpture that hangs from the sky and the perfect container for the beauty and mystery of fire.

The Gyrofocus is available for purchase in North America through European Home.  Click here to find a local dealer.

From left to right: Dominique Imbert (Focus Founder) + The first Gyrofocus Install (1968) + Modern Fabrication in France

From left to right: Dominique Imbert + The first Gyrofocus Install (1968) + Modern Fabrication in France

1. Dwell Magazine
2. Herman Miller
3. Focus Fires



Posted by: Cory John Ploessl
Cory is the Marketing Manager for European Home.  He has an MFA in Sculpture from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston.  He writes about fireplace and modern design on the European Home Blog.


Contact: Cory Ploessl
781-324-8383 ext. 220

Download PDF Version of Press Release

“World’s Most Beautiful Object” Now Available for Purchase

Focus Fires (France), led by modernist sculptor and fireplace visionary Dominique Imbert, is teaming up with European Home, a U.S. hearth products manufacturer and distributor, to re-release their iconic line of modern suspended and wall-mounted fireplaces to the North American market.  

Gyrofocus by Focus Fires

Focus’ quintessential fireplace, the Gyrofocus, was born in the late 1960s but feels as contemporary and cutting edge as ever.  It has been exhibited in multiple fine arts museums around the world, including the Guggenheim Museum in New York City.  In 2009, the Pulchra competition was launched in Italy and in its first year, competing against more than 100 beautifully designed objects, the Gyrofocus took the highest honors, chosen by voters as ‘Le cose più belle del mondo’ or ‘‘World’s most beautiful object.’

‘I want my fireplaces to touch the sky, even to hang from it.’  

-Dominique Imbert

The origin of Focus Fires dates back to 1967.  It was cold in the south of France and Dominique Imbert was restoring a ruined farmhouse, stone by stone, in the village of Viols-le-Fort. With salvaged scraps of metal, the former humanities professor, with a passion for metalwork, addressed this problem by forging his first fireplace. A smoldering smile of iron hanging from the sky: the first Focus was born. A year later, this first fireplace would give rise to a second, which was revolutionary in every sense of the word. As with its predecessor, the fireplace was suspended, but this time the hearth could pivot 360° to face any direction. Several enthusiastic friends wanted their own ‘rotating hearth’ – gyrofocus in Latin. And thus began the history of Focus and its iconic Gyrofocus fireplace.

This partnership, between Focus and European Home, will allow customers throughout North America to have local access to these famous designs.  European Home has a channel of over 100 hearth product retailers who specialize in selling to  high-end homeowners, builders, architects and designers.  “Our channel of upscale fireplace dealers are excited to offer Focus Fires to their customer base.” said European Home owner, Holly Markham.  Through European Home, over 20 Focus models are now being distributed to the United States and Canada.  


Filofocus by Focus Fires

About Focus
It was in 1967 that sculptor Dominique Imbert created his first fireplace for his own personal use in his studio at the base of the Cévennes in the south of France. He then reproduced it for several enthusiastic viewers, and so began the history of Focus. Focus designs have been featured in such wide-ranging settings as stylish living rooms and some of the world’s most prestigious design museums (for example, the Guggenheim Museum in New York and the Museum of Modern Art in Stockholm) and have been awarded numerous international distinctions.  Focus employs over 80 people between their manufacturing and business facilities.  

About European Home
Located north of Boston, in Middleton, Massachusetts, European Home was one of the first companies in North America to offer modern fireplaces.  Developed as a niche industry in 2003 and now becoming main-stream, owners Holly and John Markham continue to bring stunning, high-quality, design oriented hearth products to the North American market.  European Home employs 15 people.  In addition to distributing Focus fireplaces, European Home also distributes the Element4 line as well as manufactures its own line in the U.S.  All products are distributed in North America through regional fireplace stores.  


As the North American Distributor of the Element4 Dutch fireplace line, European Home recognizes beautiful designs. From time to time we get the pleasure of having conversations with the brilliant minds behind some of those designs. This month we sit down with Sky Adler.

Sky Adler is the Senior Director of Architecture and Design for Kona Grill, a fine dining restaurant specializing in sushi and an array of handmade cocktails.  Sky cut his teeth in design while living in LA and working in the film industry as a production designer for over a decade.

One of the first things I noticed when I walked into the new Kona Grill in Minnetonka, MN was how theatrical the whole experience was.  A giant blue LED bubble wall greets you for your red-carpet entrance.  Over by the bar, the sushi chef is cutting sashimi on his illuminated stage.  Finally, as you turn the corner, you are treated to an Element4 eight-foot long see-through gas fireplace which brings drama and warmth to the entire scene.  


Tenore 240 by Element4 – This dramatic 8′ see-through fireplace adds warmth to a space bathed in blue light.

How did you get your start in architecture and design?

(Sky) After completing my studies many years ago I picked up and moved to LA and found myself in the film industry as a production designer for 12 years.  While there I worked on all kinds of  projects even some associated with Steven Spielberg and Wolfgang Puck.  It wasn’t the path I had in mind while I was in school, but when in Rome… you know?  

[Eventually] I moved back home to Colorado and bought and old three-story Victorian House.  I was working on that for about a year, while simultaneously working on a number of other rehab projects, when I got a call from Marci Rude (VP of Development for Kona Grill) who offered to bring me on the team.   

I’ve only been at this for about 5 years now but already we’ve done about 22 new restaurants and seven remodels.  The crazy thing is, for the first three and a half years it was just me and about three other people.  Now we’re up to a team of 19.


Sky told me he was particularly proud of his outdoor design for this location. The façade is clean and contemporary, but also manages to be very open and inviting.

Did you like to design things as a child?  What would you design?

I grew up in the era of crayons, and while other kids were drawing stick figures or flowers, I was sketching out full on floor plans.  By the time I was 9 or 10 I started building model houses with intricate roofing and very specific details down to the upholstery patterns.  So, yeah, I was kinda weird.  (laughs)

My father was in construction and he would design and build a new house for us to live in just about every other year, so I had a pretty close relationship with construction and design from an early age.  

What has influenced the Kona Grill design aesthetic you have helped develop?  

When I came in we wanted to create a complete update to Kona’s image.  I completely re-imagined the color palette – bringing in blues, grays and patina coppers to create a signature look.  I also wanted to bring in new textures, like tile, concrete, and rusted metal.  When you walk into a Kona Grill you can’t help but be reminded of the elements.  Fire and water are central to our identity.  I let these elements inform nearly all of my decisions from the fireplace to the aquarium to the specific color of the light that permeates the entire space.


The Dining Room: Sky chuckles as he tells me it’s well known that blue is actually an appetite suppressant, “but sometimes you have to break the rules,” he says thoughtfully.

Light and color seem very connected in this space.  There are lots of different light sources, the aquarium, the LED wall, the fireplace, and I haven’t even mentioned the chandeliers hanging from the ceiling.  How did you come up with the lighting design for this space?

I think lighting is critical to any space.  I actually studied lighting for a whole year just to better understand how it operates.  I took a chance with all the blue lighting since it’s well known the color blue is actually an appetite suppressant (laughs) but I think it’s pretty unique for a restaurant.  You have to break the rules sometimes.  

I wanted to create different fields of light for different activities.  Everything was intentional and the bar is lighted different than the dining area which is lighted different from the lounge where the fireplace really warms up the space, provides a pop and a lot of drama amidst all the blue.  

And why did you pick the Tenore 240 by Element4 — a double-sided, see-through fireplace for this space?

Like I said, I like to create different dining experiences within the same space while maintaining the connectivity and energy throughout. The double sided fireplace allows more visibility between the wall and gives more bang for the buck, allowing a single unit to create two completely different atmospheres on either side. The appeal is to have division between the patio and dining room but still being able to see through to each and have the dynamic fire feature to combine the two.

Modern See-through Fireplace

“Side B”: Sky chose the Tenore 240, see-through fireplace for his design because you can create two dramatically different atmospheres while still connecting the spaces. For the side facing the parking lot, he stuck with his bold theme and paired a bright blue tile surround with bright orange deck chairs.

Could you describe your design style in a couple sentences?

I completely don’t have one. (Laughs)  I feel I’m well versed in everything.  What we’ve created for Kona Grill in particular is something that is modern and relevant but not so modern that it will be dated in a couple years.  My style is very architectural very clean while still being warm and inviting.


Always clean, always modern: robust flames dance atop black quartz fire media.

Element4 fireplaces are available throughout the US and Canada.  Click Here to find a local dealer today.
Kona Grill has multiple locations throughout the US and one restaurant in Puerto Rico.  To find one near you Click Here.


Special Thanks To:
Kona Grill
Sky Adler
Nick Wells
All photography by: John Magnoski
and finally…
Joe, Bonnie and all the wonderful people at
All Seasons Fireplace are responsible for this installation.



Posted by: Cory John Ploessl
Cory is the Marketing Manager for European Home.  He has an MFA in Sculpture from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston.  He writes about fireplace and modern design on the European Home Blog.